What if a New Zealander went to the International Space Station (ISS)?
When I was a kid I was inspired by the sight and sound of aeroplanes whizzing past my school. I remember at primary school watching Skyhawk jets waking up the whole valley with their all mighty roar, I thought to myself – I want to do that. I remember going to air shows and seeing the pilots and imagining what it would be like to strap into one of those old warbirds like the spitfire or hurricane and feeling the acceleration, these things inspired me so much that I did become a pilot. I also remember being inspired by William Pickering when he appeared on a showing of “This is Your Life” back in the 80s. At the time I had no idea a kiwi had been so instrumental in the US space programme. I asked myself, what if I could do that. So much like a lot of our kids who are inspired to greatness through sport and emulating childhood heros, then imagine how many would be inspired by a kiwi going to the ISS, imagine if a kiwi walked on the moon or imagine if a kiwi was on the first trip to Mars. I think it would be up there with the pioneers of our history, like Sir Peter Blake, Sir Edmund Hilary or any of the other kiwis who have done great things that have inspired young New Zealanders into fields of study and into great achievements.
Imagine what effect putting a kiwi into space would have on diminishing numbers of kids studying sciences at secondary school, I bet it would turn around those numbers with kids asking “what do I need to study to go to space?” So imagine it’s 2025 and a kiwi is selected for an ISS crew, we’d all be glued to our screens watching the live feed of the launch, it’d be the talk of every school in the country. And on the return that astronaut would be touring New Zealand inspiring the next generation to study science and to dream, and showing all of those kids that dream of being an astronaut that it is really possible. Let’s do it New Zealand, lets put a kiwi in space!